Lyric Sexology Vol. 1 by Trish Salah
Trish Salah’s second poetry collection, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1, reveals trans histories showcasing wit, sex, and brilliance in spite of pain, judgement, and exclusion. The collection—published in 2014 by Roof Books—now finally has a greater Canadian audience with a reprinting by Metonymy Press. Rather than distance itself from the god-angering, sex-working, acid-dropping, kink-loving, spirit-communing realities of trans histories, Salah’s work meets them head-on, showing readers a messy history of both trans people and of Salah, with all the nuance and resourcefulness
that make so many trans people the beautiful, hurt, hilarious, brilliant people we are. This work does not shy away from the sexuality of trans people or other topics lost to respectability. Rather, Salah calls our attention to histories omitted, to complicated chimeric feelings of locating oneself in anger, lust, and fragmented legend. Salah writes trans people as mythic.
Further, this collection does not shy away from topics avoided in standard “wrong body” narratives of transgender transition. “I masturbate in lunar cycles,” reads a line from “Teenage Trans Vamp, Montreal, 1987.” Salah connects trans women to the cycles of the moon, connecting our bodies and sexuality to the Earth, in contrast to being discussed as a perversion, or entirely man-made, as has been historically asserted in a range of forums, from feminist to medical.
In “The Count,” Salah writes, “I don’t mind saying I was not born this way. It was spirit possession, but I invited it.” This reflection on transition is mirrored through Salah’s frequent use of the strikethrough. While each use of the strikethrough is specific to the context of the poem, it broadly shows an unwillingness to erase the past. “Betrayed in heels, begowned, with my Manhood maidenhead on offer,” reads one line from the poem “The Adventures of Julian Robinson AKA Miss High Heels.” Salah asks the reader to understand trans lives, or any human life, as an ongoing process. On the whole, this work reminds us that the naming and describing of trans people is ubiquitous to our contexts and that trans people are present in just about every context. Individually, these poems are brilliant, but as a whole, they are staggering.
Originally published by Roof Books in 2014, Lyric Sexology was difficult to obtain, despite Salah’s home base in Canada. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to discover or rediscover this book. Lyric Sexology is a beautiful history of trans existence, rich with legend, ecstasy, and sorrow. It is the sexy, insightful, gorgeous history that trans people deserve.